Co-Founder/Mentor Selection, could you “Tinderise” it? #startups #math #data @fryrsquared

The Story So Far…

For those who’ve had the sheer bravery to keep up with my ramblings, I salute you. Annoyingly I created another Linkedin profile as you are a professional leper if you don’t have one it appears. So I’m there in name and spirit but I’m not accepting any recruiter spam, I’m 100% happy where I am thank you.

The net result of reopening the Pandora’s box of professional ego storage was that I got two offers of being a mentor on “a fantastic new product” and even more annoying for you dear reader, that got me thinking. How did a founder come to that conclusion so quickly. Did my Linkedin invitation just trigger that thought? Was it the catalyst of, “Oh there’s Jase, I should ask him” or was the founder playing a game of, “the next annoyed idiot that emails me is going to get asked”?

All possible scenarios and I’ve seen all of them been played out.

When in Doubt, Fry R Square It.

When it comes to putting one set of people (in this instance, founders) seeking another set of people (in this instance potential co-founders or mentors) then I think of the work of Dr Hannah Fry.

Dr Fry attempting to eat a Subway Foot Long, assuming it's Chicken Teriyaki or something.... I hope she doesn't read this then tell me she's vegetarian.
Dr Fry attempting to eat a Subway Foot Long, assuming it’s Chicken Teriyaki or something along those lines…. I hope she doesn’t read this then tell me she’s vegetarian.

So my semi fiendish plan to pair founders with the mentors of their dreams/nightmares is to use something I first learned from Dr Fry, optimal stopping theory.

My interest in maths and stats happened way after I left school, I code and I read a lot. After writing the book on Machine Learning* I’ve wanted to extend what I know. Now I have the OU phoning me up, “those Maths modules you chose, the next bit it pay for them……”, anyway I digress slightly.

At some mad networking event you decide that you are not leaving until you find your mentor. So first work out how many people you are going to talk to. Okay, there are 50 people in the room…. the golden number you need to remember right now is 37%. That’s your lottery ticket right there.

In other words, fifty divided by one hundred and times by 37… she or he is your target to pin down, they are the chosen one. Okay, 18.5, let’s round up and say that you have to shot, “YOU’RE NUMBER 19, YOU ARE THE ONE, SIGN HERE!”, you could even do all this with Paul Hardcastle playing in the background. The rest of them, well that’s just a risk you’ll have to take.

Note: Normally I find that investors, mentors and potential co founders, well they talk to you about their entire life story, how great it is to be in the tech sector (they obviously weren’t there for the dot com bust, I was, it was hell), and how AI chatbots are the next new thing that’s going to replace email. Then they hand you a card and say….. “email me”. 

So You Aren’t At The Networking Event

A Yorkshireman living 70 miles from Belfast where the networking meetings happen, well it’s not going to return dividends, not that I’m looking, but let’s imagine.

So I need another method. If you watched “Horizon: How To Find Love Online” you’ll know that the app Tinder was used in the brutal writing off of the 37%. With the likes of Linkedin and does it not make sense to apply the same to mentor/cofo searching? Another ranked pool of people seeking out other interested people for evenings of meetings, funding applications and investor pitches.


Swipe your way through (this is apparently what the kids do) 37% of a number of users you’re willing to write off and…. the mentor of your dreams! So much work taken out, you’ll be thanking me, actually no, Dr Fry, later. I cannot, and will not, take any credit for this.

Now what would be funny would be if Elon Musk came up within the first n results and you had to move on, you’d be kicking yourself for days. There’s got to be another blog post just on working out the probability of such a thing happening. Another time perhaps, right now we have the Timmy Number to contend with.

I Can Just See It Now….

I’m expecting in two or three weeks time a phone call, saying that they applied the optimal stopping rule to a network meeting and it’s all gone horribly wrong.

Well I’m not responsible, you had the the choice to ignore this blog post completely. I’m just wondering who’ll give it go 🙂

If you want to know more about the optimal stopping theory and other interesting choosing algorithms then Dr Hannah Fry’s book, “The Mathematics of Love: Patterns, Proofs and the Search for the Ultimate Equation“, is definately worth a look.

* And for those who want a challenge, the Chinese and Korean translations of my book are coming out in the next few months.

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